Back Home Again in Indiana
"(Back Home Again in) Indiana" is a song composed by Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley, first published in January 1917. While it is not the official state song of the U.S. state of Indiana ("On the Banks of the Wabash"), it is perhaps the best-known song that pays tribute to the Hoosier State.
Origin and influence
The tune was introduced as a Tin Pan Alley pop-song of the time. It contains a musical quotation from the already well known "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away", as well as repetition of some key words and phrases from the lyrics of the latter: moonlight, candlelight, fields, new-mown hay, sycamores, and of course the Wabash River.
In 1934, Joe Young, Jean Schwartz, and Joe Ager wrote "In a Little Red Barn (on a Farm down in Indiana)", which not only incorporated all the same key words and phrases above, but whose chorus had the same harmonic structure as "Indiana". In this respect it was a contrafact of the latter (see "A jazz standard" below).
A jazz standard
In 1917 it was one of the current pop tunes selected by Columbia Records to be recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, who released it as a Columbia 78, A2297, backed with "Darktown Strutters' Ball". This lively instrumental version by the ODJB was one of the earliest jazz records issued and sold well. The tune became a jazz standard. For years, Louis Armstrong and his All Stars would open each public performance with the number.
Albert Nicholas, clarinetist, with The Big Chief Jazz Band recorded it on Oslo August 29, 1955. Released on the 78 rpm record Philips P 53037 H.
Its chord changes undergird the Miles Davis bop composition "Donna Lee", one of jazz's best known contrafacts (a composition that overlays a new melody over an existing harmonic structure). Other lesser known contrafacts include Fats Navarro's "Ice Freezes Red" and Lennie Tristano's "Ju-Ju".
An Indiana signature
Performed by the Homestead Trio, published by Edison Records
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Since 1946, it has been an annual tradition for the chorus of the song to be performed at the Indianapolis 500 automobile race. In most years since 1972, it has been sung by actor and singer Jim Nabors. Nabors' version alters several of the lyrics, replacing "shining" with "burning", "all" with "out", "from" with "through", and "then" with "how". The singing is backed by the Purdue All-American Marching Band. It is performed immediately following "The Star-Spangled Banner", the Invocation, and the rendering of "Taps". The song is accompanied by a large balloon release near the end. The Indiana State Marching Sycamores also have a rendition of this song that is played at every event.
Since 1991 Indianapolis TV station WISH-TV used components of the song in their news themes; and since 1997 Fort Wayne TV station WANE-TV (WISH-TV's sister station owned by LIN TV) has also used components of the song in their news themes. Stephen Arnold Music's Newsleader and "Counterpoint with Indiana" (aka WISH-TV News Music Package) and 615 Music's "In-Sink V.4" (aka "In-Sink with Indiana") are news music themes that have the "Back Home Again in Indiana" Signature.
It is also used to open every Little 500 bicycle race held at Indiana University.
I VI7 II7 II7 V7 V7 I I7
IV iv I I II7 II7 V7 V7
I VI7 II7 II7 V7 III7 vi vi
I III7 vi II7 I-VI7 II7-V7 I I